Filters prevent access to charity websites

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​An internet campaign group has warned charities are unable to reach people due to safety filters blocking their websites

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16th July 2014 by Paul Cardwell 0 Comments

Vulnerable people may not be able to access support and information from Scottish charities because strict safety filters are blocking home computers from accessing charity websites.

Campaigners Open Rights Group,  which raises awareness of digital media rights abuses, has tested access to over 130,000 of the most popular websites and found 10% of them were blocked by one or more of the main UK internet service providers (ISPs).

Further investigation by STV Local found at least 56 Scottish charities featured on the blocked list including Aberdeen based Alcohol Support, anti-smoking campaign group ASH Scotland and the Say Women project in Glasgow which supports women who have been sexually abused.

Web filters that are supposed to protect children and young people can actually prevent them from accessing websites that may actually give them important information

Pam Cowburn, communications director of Open Rights Group, told TFN government pressure had made ISPs put in place filters to protect children from looking at sexually explicit and illegal material on the internet. However this has led to some legitimate websites being blocked which simply contain words such as sex, abuse and alcohol.

Cowburn called for all ISPs to publish a list of blocked sites so those wrongly filtered can be identified more easily.

She added: “The Blocked project shows that there is a real problem with overblocking. Web filters that are supposed to protect children and young people can actually prevent them from accessing websites that may actually give them important information, for example sexual or drugs health websites.

 “We need to educate children so that they have the skills to navigate the web safely. This is not just about preventing them from seeing adult content but also helping them to deal with issues such as online bullying.”

Check if your charity is blocked by any ISPs by entering its website's adress on the Blocked website.